In a previous publication, I discussed how the development of human reasoning gave rise to the emergence of inequality. As men gradually acquired more leisure time and came to form primitive societies, “[p]eople become accustomed to consider different objects and to make comparisons. Imperceptibly they acquire the ideas of merit and beauty that produce feelings of preference” (Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men, 73).
In modern societies, we witness varying degrees of lookism, referred to as the discrimination that one receives based on one’s physical appearance, which was, oftentimes, judged based on a certain beauty standard established by society. I have had the opportunity to come across several works that shed light on what may happen in a society with an obsession with appearances, namely the webtoon Lookism. In this world, one’s appearance decided one’s future. If you were handsome enough, you would get more opportunities; if you were pretty enough, you were respected and cherished. Good looks brought popularity and favor with fellow men. Failing to meet the beauty standard could lead to severe bullying and harassment, as is the case for the main character of the webtoon, Daniel Park. When Daniel was suddenly bestowed with a new body with a handsome face and extraordinary physique, he began to experience the benefits that came with having a nice face such as the lack of physical harassment, his voice now held significance, and job opportunities. There was a drastic difference in the way others treated him in his enhanced body versus his original body.
Before I continue, I must clarify that there is nothing inherently wrong with having preferences in terms of appearances. However, when a society places an excessive amount of importance on looks, there arises a perversion in the act of imposing one’s expectations of beauty upon another and acting accordingly based on the judgment of that person’s appearance, as Daniel’s society demonstrates. In the state of nature, the savage man did not concern himself with appearances, seeing as he had no need to. In this state, he did not have to worry about maintaining his appearance to please the fleeting expectations of man by putting on makeup, getting plastic surgery, or buying luxury-brand clothing. I leave with this statement from my discourse on the origins of inequality: “The more one reflects on it, the more one finds that this state was the least subject to upheavals and the best for man…” (74).
Recently, I was talking to my roommate, who also went to the same high school as I did, about the differences and similarities between our high school and UCSD. We came to the conclusion that the social pressure of our high school enforces the idea that everything needs a ranking. In other words, your performances in academics and involvement in extracurricular activities determined your worth as a person, as opposed to your actual character traits. We recalled how competitive our high school was and how it impacts students as they continue onto college. For example, we talked about how a former schoolmate, who I shall refer to as ‘M’, still unnecessarily comments about certain subjects in order to show that they are knowledgeable and can dominate the conversation, despite not providing accurate information. I think this stems from the peer pressure in high school where we constantly had to prove our intelligence to demonstrate that we are better than everyone else. Similarly, in Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality, he states that “comparisons [are] carried out when needed and almost without thinking about it…this development increased his superiority over the other animals by making him aware of it” (70). This comparison among high school students became second nature to us because being number one was what really mattered. With ‘M’, my roommate and I noticed that they still push themselves to attain that ‘pre-med’ status and become a doctor, just like everyone else, to show that they can do it too.
I remembered watching the news about the earthquake that took place in Puerto Rico a couple of days ago. The earthquake in Puerto Rico has been going on intermittently since last year, making the residents terrified and traumatized, fearing for the worst. In the news, I learned that many families had moved, all seeking for better living conditions. While many people are praying and helping each other out, I can’t help but notice a comment made towards the migration population, saying “since you don’t have people dying now, there is not the same sense of urgency.” As I questioned in The Basic Political Writings, “What are the generosity, mercy, and humanity, if not pity applied to the weak, to the guilty, or to the human species in general (pg 62)?” Although immigration might not be so simple, it’s merciless and inhumane to make comments rejecting people in need simply because their condition isn’t lethal at the moment. I would strongly suggest people do unto others as you would have them do unto you (pg 64), since it might be useful to you one day.
Like I have been saying, us humans have pity for one another which is why instead of harming one another, we help each other … unless we threaten each other’s self preservation then, that’s a whole different situation. So, I was discussing with my fellow 18th century folks and they told me of this research that some biologists conducted on how we may be born with the impulse to help. In this research they found that, as young as 18 months old, infants immediately help adults who are in need of assistance (for example, if they dropped something or is struggling with opening the door). This research they conducted proved my ideas right, even babies have the ability to empathize with people who are struggling because instead of ignoring the adults they try to help them in any way they can. This innate ability of ours is the reason why we are still here today because if we didn’t have this, “human race would long ago have ceased to exist, if its preservation had depended solely on the reasonings of its members”.
Some men have found entertainment in pitting two dogs against each other. These unfortunate dogs are raised in poor conditions built on the foundation of violence. At a young age, they are taught to be aggressive towards their own species and attack one another. Both dogs in the fight are wounded severely and later treated poorly by their owners. Men are taking these dogs out of a state of nature to make them more aggressive. Observe this example in the state of nature: “Pit a bear or a wolf against a savage who is robust, agile, and courageous, as they all are, armed with stones and a hefty cudgel, and you will see that the danger will be at least equal on both sides, and that after several such experiences, ferocious beasts, which do not like to attack one another, will be quite reluctant to attack a man, having found him to be as ferocious as themselves” (49). In other words, two dogs would not want to attack each other after the first round, but are obliged to do so in these dog fighting rings. These fights often end in death all for the purpose of man’s greed and entertainment.
I was recently reading an article from National Geographic about the emotions and behaviors of animals, which says that many animals, like elephants, dolphins, and dogs have empathy just like humans do. A report said that there once was an old woman who cannot see well and got lost and found out the next day an elephant guarding her. This remains me thinking of a study of animal behavior saying that elephants are emotional animals that have a strong sense of empathy. Humans, in their eyes, are just like little babies that can arouse their willingness of protection. Many animals, just like human beings, are born with this emotion as I mentioned in Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754), pg 64 that “pity is a natural sentiment, which, by moderating in each individual the activity of the love of oneself, contributes to the mutual preservation of the entire species. Pity is what carries us without reflection to the aid of those we see suffering”. This shows us that we all share a lot of similarities in the state of nature and those human beings who are considered as barbarians are actually just more well-protected by nature than us.
I ran into this TV show the other day, and I am intrigued. It seems to highlight how individuals are not morally just in the lives they just left behind, and thus, they are placed into the afterlife that is a facade of being the ‘paradise’ for the afterlife, only to be tortured by the things they believe they find valuable. Yet the main characters of the show are working to morally become better people and prove they are actually deserving of being in the real ‘paradise of the afterlife.’
I find this humorous, because it actually highlights what I have said about the importance of trying to stick to the simple operations of man before reason, including how people are “ardently interested in our well-being and self preservation,” as I mentioned on page 42 of my work The Basic Political Writings. This show highlights not only how this mindset of achieving out well-being has lead individuals to be tortured due to their somewhat selfish and self preserving nature, but it also demonstrates how humans values and needs cloud their judgement towards achieving their true happiness. As I said once before, and I’ll say it again, “one is not obliged to make a man a philosopher before making him a man” granted that one does not “do any harm to my fellowman,” also outlined on page 42 of my work The Basic Political Writings. Alas, these people do the exact opposite, and overly complicate everything I have outlined. One example would be the character Chidi, who constantly is questioning everything- every action, decision, and life as a whole. Yet his ultimate desire is to discover the answer to every single problem that he encounters, that he does not realize that he is torturing himself and even his friends through constantly questioning everything, and never accepting anything for what it is. *Sigh*, if only mankind would listen what I had to say and stick to trying to obtain the basic desires of man, then maybe we could live in the simple state of nature I outlined and actually achieve the true happiness one desires.
But who knows why they do not listen. In fact, the characters seem to follow some of my, er, philosopher colleagues and their ideas, like Locke. Ugh, of course they listen to Locke(<– as seen in this article) and his stupid ideas about one’s identity being based on a continued consciousness and memories. Don’t they get it, it is achieving the simple desires in life that we need to work for, such as living to the next day, not trying to plan our entire life based off of our past?! They’ll see I am right though, eventually, if they listen to what I say…
I was having dinner with my parents a few days ago, and we began to discuss how San Diego schools were trying to give special times for prayer and teaching different religions to those who are not that specific religion, which they must have heard from this. My parents discussed how they did not feel it was fair for any religion to get special treatment over the other in the United States. However, I brought up a point on how they are biased, which is that the US is very centered on Christianity as well. I pointed out how many towns in the US still close on Sundays, and many different perspectives and such are influenced by Christian values, and how people judge things morally and such. The US is entirely centered on Christianity from holidays, to saying merry Christmas. These values are so imbued in the US culture and ideals and how the US is governed that some people completely miss them. However, these biases toward Christianity, despite some not being the same religion, is the fact that these values had set up a framework for the morals and expectations of the country today, or in also my own words “…politics and religion have a common object among us, but that in the beginning stages of nations the one serves as an instrument of the other.” as I discussed in pg 183 in my The Basic Political Writings. As this country had Christian and similar religious laws before we had a government, and as such these religious values co-align with today’s government.